"Sport against Crime" in Wesbank
On Saturday, 21 April 2012, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) presented its influential "Sport against Crime" outreach programme at the sportfield in Wesbank. Through its collaboration with the community of Wesbank, DCAS proved that there are positive alternatives to gangsterism and substance abuse and that sport and culture offer a shield against social ills.
In terms of the Provincial Gang Strategy, Wesbank was not initially identified for intervention. However, the Provincial Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Dr Ivan Meyer, strongly proposed that the crime rate in the area warrants such an intervention. This meant that Wesbank would be one of the areas visited by the provincial government to present its outreach programme, providing youth at risk with an opportunity to participate in street soccer competitions and cultural activities. Local talent is showcased and positive role models are portrayed to the youth.
More than 1 000 residents attended this programme and after his speech Minister Meyer handed over soccer equipment to the Wesbank Street Soccer Association. The children had access to a waterslide and the attendees were entertained with poetry, traditional dance, gospel singers and community choirs.
With the assistance of DCAS and their partners, the Street Soccer Association managed to register more than 200 young boys and girls. Its chairperson, Mr Henry Ford, was pleased with the number of youth who participated in the programme and he hopes to get even more youth involved.
The successful outreach programme follows after months of planning in partnership with the City of Cape Town, the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Department of Community Safety and, most importantly, the Wesbank community members. The main focus of this co-operation will always be on the sustainability of the programme.
The Project Manager for the Provincial Departmental Transversal Programmes, Mr Armien White, says that the Western Cape Anti-Gang Strategy contributes to the promotion of community development. With the support of the Mfuleni SAPS, Delft SAPS, Wesbank Sub-council and the local NGOs, the aim would be to mobilise social partners in communities to address challenges faced by the youth at risk. Sport development in any area, not only in Wesbank, is essential as it strengthens social inclusion in communities. Greater participation of the community will enhance its social inclusiveness.
Ideally, the Street Soccer Association would ultimately become self-sustainable - a vision that DCAS illustrates through its ongoing drive to work better together with its partners.